Pat Butcher

20 March 2021

Pat Butcher

The club are saddened to hear of the death of Pat Putcher.

Pat joined the club in the 1970’s as an enthusiastic parent and was quickly appointed as the Young Athletes Coordinator, a role which oversaw the club’s up and coming athletes, many of whom went on to county, national and international success. 

Pat became a middle-distance coach and also served the club as a team manager.

A tribute to Pat

Mrs Pat Butcher, a well-known and highly respected middle distance running coach for the City of Portsmouth Athletic Club for nearly 50 years, passed away on the 18th March, 2021.

Pat, wife of late husband Bill, mother of two, Rachel and Greg, loving owner of numerous Sheltie (Scottish Sheepdog) collie dogs, scientific assistant and eventually teacher, was an exceptional individual. At heart she was a country girl, growing up on various farms in Hampshire and was proudly in tune with the flora, fauna and wildlife of the countryside. Speaking of her upbringing Pat would say "it was idyllic, I cannot think of anything nicer".

Coaching aside with the club, Pat was involved in many aspects of club athletics including Statistician, Young Athletes Team Manager and Organiser of the Annual Presentation Awards. She introduced 'fun' athletics to the club, offering children under the age of 11 the opportunity to exercise in an enjoyable way while sampling the sport. Many youngsters then continued on to officially join the Club and to compete at County, Area and National League standards.

For many years Pat continued an association with the GA Basse-Seine athletic club in Bolbec, Northern France, accepting the annual invitation to send teams of all age groups to compete in this renowned Grand-Prix cross-country event. The racing was only a part of the whole continental weekend experience for the athletes, (some of whom had never had the opportunity to travel abroad before). The cultural and social experience was as equally important in Pat's eyes.

Over the years, through her coaching, many hundreds of children of all abilties were guided by Pat to help them fulfill their potential. The journey of personal development of both the athlete and the individual was key for Pat. Enjoyment was as an important part of her coaching as was the strict adherence to the Sport's rules, and she would not suffer bad behaviour. Instead, the young athletes thrived and got on well together, making lasting friendships. Pat's involvement with young athletes did not stop with club athletics, she was part of the South East Hants Schools and Portsmouth Schools athletics systems, organising Track and Field, Sports-Hall Athletics and cross-country races. Many thousands of schoolchildren in the Portsmouth and surrounding area would have participated in her after-school Portsdown Hill races over the years.

Pat's training sessions were legendary, and many are still used today - 4s, 3s, 2s; 4 x fast runs; 5 x 400 metre time trials; Wholes, half, quarters; Triangles on Portsdown Hill; Troon Crescent repetitions; Farlington Avenue hill work; Hayling Island Sand Dunes; QE Forest Sunday morning long runs. There are hundreds more and many of the young athletes have them all well documented and recorded in their Training Diaries. More than 30 individuals gained National and International success over the years, including perhaps the most famous, Michael East becoming 2002 Manchester Commonwealth 1500 metre Champion and racing in the 2004 Athens 1500 metre Olympic Final. Behind this success was years of training and dedication - both by Michael and by Pat!

Pat's achievements are highly commendable, and she was especially well known in the South-East of England and Portsmouth. Her influence on generations of young athletes was legendary and many will grieve her passing. Her dedication to the personal development of athletes was outstanding and inspirational. Through her work as a teacher, Pat understood child psychology, and she skillfully enabled the young runners to take control of their own destiny, and to realise that with hard work and dedication, the world really was their oyster. Pat's service to athletics was honoured with an invitation to the Queens Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

Pat was buried at the South Downs Natural Burial Site in East Meon on Wednesday 31 March and whilst the service was subject to Coronavirus restrictions, City of Portsmouth AC was well represented.

Rest in Peace Pat.